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Air Conditioner Makes Whooshing Noise

An air conditioner is essential for maintaining comfortable temperatures in homes and offices, especially during the hotter months. However, sometimes, these units develop peculiar sounds that indicate potential issues or maintenance needs. One common auditory signifier of a problem is a whooshing noise, which can be persistent and disruptive.

The whooshing noise typically arises from the airflow within the system, which can be affected by various factors. For instance, blockages in the vents or the presence of leaky, damaged, or loose air ducts can cause turbulent air movement, leading to noise. It's also possible for internal components, such as the compressor or the evaporator coil, to contribute to this sound if faulty or under strain. Identifying the noise source is the first step toward addressing it and restoring the air conditioner's quiet operation.

Common Causes of Air Conditioner Noises

Various components of an air conditioner can produce noises when they encounter issues. Understanding the common causes helps in effective troubleshooting and repair.

Fan and Motor Issues

Fan-related complications often result in noises such as rattling or banging. Motor problems may manifest as humming or grinding noises. The source can typically be traced to the fan motor or blower fan that may have developed loose or broken parts , affecting performance.

●Fan blades:  Bent or loose blades can create a rattling or clanking noise.

●Motor bearings:  If worn out, they might cause grinding sounds.

Obstructions in Airflow

Restricted airflow can cause a whooshing sound, which indicates airflow issues. This can often be resolved by replacing a dirty air filter or removing debris causing blockages.

●Air filters: Clogged filters can impede airflow and be quickly remedied by cleaning or replacing.

●Coils: Dirt on the waves can also restrict airflow and make noise.

Refrigerant Concerns

Refrigerant leaks produce a hissing noise, while issues within the refrigerant lines might present a whooshing or bubbling sound. Addressing these issues promptly is imperative as they affect AC efficiency and could indicate refrigerant line problems.

●Hissing sound: Often related to refrigerant leaks in the lines.

●Bubbling or whooshing: Can point to refrigerant line concerns or leaks.

 A man is adjusting the air conditioner with a remote control

Mechanical Wear and Tear

Over time, wear and tear can cause parts in the compressor, like the piston pin, connecting rod, or crankshaft, to become noisy. Regular maintenance is essential in reducing the impact of wear.

●Vibrations: Loose components can cause vibrations leading to clanking or banging noises.

●Belt drive systems:If present, worn belts may lead to a slapping or thumping noise.

Specific Air Conditioner Sounds and Diagnostics

When an air conditioner starts making unusual noises, it indicates a range of potential issues within the unit, from minor blockages to severe electrical problems. Understanding the specific sounds can provide vital clues for diagnostics and subsequent repair.

Rattling and Banging

Rattling noises in an air conditioner may suggest loose parts, such as screws, bolts, or other hardware, within the unit. These sounds can originate from the casing or internal components. Banging noises often indicate a more serious concern, such as a dislodged or broken compressor, demanding immediate attention to prevent further damage.

Buzzing and Humming

buzzing noise typically points to electrical issues. Components such as the capacitor or relay switch might be malfunctioning. Meanwhile, a humming sound can signal an electrical problem but may also be due to a failing fan motor. It’s essential to inspect electrical connections and components professionally.

Clicking and Pulsating

Clicking noises often occur when an air conditioner cycles on and off. It can be a typical sound from the thermostat or relay switch. However, persistent clicking sounds can also mean a defective relay or electrical control failure. Pulsating noises may reflect irregularities in the electrical supply or issues with the fan blades, necessitating a thorough check.

A picture of an air conditioner

Squealing and Screeching

Squealing noises are usually associated with belt-driven components, where the belt might slip or wear out. On the other hand, a high-pitched screeching noise can be a sign of a pressurized system issue, such as a malfunctioning fan motor or compressor, which a professional should promptly assess.

Troubleshooting and Repairing AC Sounds

When an air conditioner starts making a whooshing noise, it can indicate several issues. This section guides you through basic troubleshooting steps and advises when to seek professional help to ensure safe and effective repairs.

DIY Troubleshooting Steps

Air Filter: Begin by checking the air filter. A clogged filter can restrict airflow, causing noise. If it is dirty, replace it with a new filter.

●Locate the air filter housing and remove the old filter.

Install a new air filter, ensuring it fits properly.

Blower Fan and Motor Bearings:

●Inspect the blower fan for debris or dirt buildup. Clean it carefully to avoid damaging any parts.

●Listen for noise from the motor bearings; they might need lubrication or, if damaged, replacement.

Evaporator Coils:

●Ensure that the evaporator coils are not frozen or dirty. If so, turn off the unit to thaw and clean them with a soft brush.


●Check for any disconnects or leaks in the ductwork. Tighten any loose screws and seal leaks with duct tape or mastic.

A picture of an air conditioner

Professional Inspection and Maintenance

HVAC Technician: If the issue persists after DIY troubleshooting or you're uncomfortable performing these steps, contact an HVAC professional. They have the tools and expertise for a comprehensive inspection.

●An HVAC professional will inspect the air handler and other components that require specialized knowledge.

●They perform regular maintenance, including checking motor bearings, securing loose screws, and ensuring the coil is functioning correctly.

Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular inspections to avoid unexpected noises and prolong the air conditioner's life. A professional will provide thorough cleaning, potential repairs, and advice on running the system smoothly.

Preventing Air Conditioner Noises

To ensure the efficient and regular operation of an air conditioner, preventing noises often requires two main approaches: consistent maintenance and correct installation. Addressing both can help maintain the integrity of the system's indoor and outdoor units and ensure that components such as fan blades, filters, and motor bearings operate smoothly.

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

Monthly Inspection and Cleaning of Filters: Regular cleaning or replacing air filters is crucial for maintaining airflow and efficiency.

●Inspect filters monthly clean or replace as needed.

●Clean filters can prevent blockages that strain the blower fan.

Annual Check of Mechanical Parts: Yearly maintenance should include thoroughly inspecting and cleaning key components.

●Lubricate motor bearings to reduce friction and wear.

●Check fan blades for dust buildup and balance to prevent vibrations.

A picture of an air conditioner and various remote controls

Proper Installation and Setup

Accurate Installation of Indoor and Outdoor Units: Proper installation is pivotal for an air conditioner's longevity and noise reduction.

●Ensure stable mounting of the indoor and outdoor units to avoid vibrations.

●Verify that the system is level for optimal performance and minimal noise.

Correct Sizing and Setup of Components: Selecting the proper capacitors and ensuring that all parts are correctly sized and installed can avoid many operational issues.

●Use appropriately sized capacitors; they store and regulate electrical energy for efficient motor operation.

●A professional should conduct or verify installation to ensure the setup promotes proper balance and efficient functioning.

Following these specific and targeted steps can significantly diminish the chances of experiencing disruptive air conditioner noises, thereby maintaining a quiet and efficient cooling system.

When to Replace Your Air Conditioner

Deciding to replace an air conditioner is a significant decision that hinges on factors such as cost-effectiveness and the damage the unit has sustained. The following subsections guide assessing the viability of repairs versus the need for replacement and recognizing when damage is beyond repair.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Repair vs. Replacement

When an air conditioner starts making unusual noises, such as whooshing sounds, it could signify the need for either repair or replacement. A cost-benefit analysis should compare the cost of repairs to the price of a new unit. Expensive repairs—approaching 50% of the replacement cost—may justify purchasing a new, more efficient system. Regular maintenance by a certified HVAC technician can often extend the lifespan of an AC system, but when repair costs mount, it is wise to consider replacement, especially if:

●The air conditioner is older than ten years.

●Energy bills have been increasing due to reduced efficiency.

●The AC requires frequent repairs.

Signs of Irreparable Damage

Certain damages to an air conditioner may be beyond repair, necessitating replacement. Key signs of irreparable damage include:

●Compressor issues: The AC compressor is vital and costly to replace. If it malfunctions, a replacement unit might be more economical.

●Electrical issues: Ongoing electrical issues, such as short circuits or frequent tripping of circuit breakers, indicate deeper problems that could warrant a new AC system.

●Leaks: If the AC unit has a refrigerant leak, fixing it can be as costly as getting a new system. Leaks can also lead to environmental harm and reduced operational efficiency.

In summary, assessing the long-term cost implications of repairing an old air conditioner versus the benefits of investing in a new, more efficient model is essential. A professional should evaluate a unit showing signs of severe damage or chronic malfunction to determine whether it is time for a replacement.